Friday, June 13, 2008

Why we are proud to call him our friend

Rob and I have been friends since 1977, when we met in junior high school. We have been cycling together since 1987. Well, I say "cycling together". I stopped being able to keep up with Rob around... 1987.

Rob is the best cyclist I have ever personally known. He rides faster and climbs hills better than most.

More important, he is an equally good husband, son, brother, police officer and friend. He has a huge heart, which he puts into everything he does (just ask anyone about the neat painting job he did on the back edges of the shelves he installed in the crawl space of Kate's and his house.)

The thing about RAAM is - it really does not care much about any of that. Sometimes a crash can take you out of the race in one fell swoop. In other cases, it is a thousand little cuts. Mechanical problems, nutritional upsets, bronchitis, hydration, saddle sores - whatever. Any one of those things is not a deal breaker, but multiple road blocks can lead to a premature end of the road.

It is not for lack of training or planning or dedication or heart.

It just is.

Rob has now competed in four RAAMs. He has finished two. In all four, he rode farther, faster and stronger that anyone I will ever know. Just going to the starting line of RAAM is an act of courage beyond comprehension. Everything else is just gravy.

Rob's the man. And I am proud to call him my friend.

A battle well fought

I just hung up the phone with Rob. After 1320 miles, it is time. He has decided to end this year's RAAM.

In the end, saddle sores are a bad scene. Immensely painful, the rider adjusts his position in the saddle to try to compensate and get more comfortable. That leads to lower efficiency and worse, possible bio-mechanical problems in the knees and hips.

It was a tough decision, no doubt, but it was made with his wife and day crew members Mike Perron and Vin Daniello.

In the end, Rob knows himself better than anyone. He made the right decision.

A pain in the a**

Rob's cousin Tom Schmiedel just called me from Elkhart, KS. Rob is still about 10 miles from Elkhart.

Apparently, the saddle sore is quite bad and causing serious pain, hence his slow pace into Elkhart. It is in danger of becoming infected and may already be.

There is no cell phone service so the crew sent Tom ahead to ask me to contact Rob's doctors here in CT to see what some options might be, but they are all on lunch break until 1:00 PM EDT.

*Report from the road - 6-13-2008, 10:45 AM EDT*

I can't get through to the pace van this morning, but I just spoke with Tom Wendel in the shuttle van. Rob has a new problem, the extent of which I am unclear.

He has developed a pretty bad saddle sore on his butt.

Saddle sores are a fact of life in RAAM, but they can be quite serious. The pain is spectacular and if they get infected, they can be dangerous. (Some day, ask Rob about former RAAM winner Paul Solon's saddle sores when Rob crewed for Paul in 1995. Just don't ask while eating.)

Anyway, treating the saddle sore caused another much longer break overnight and therefore less mileage than he needs to do during the overnight period.

Rob has to spend more time in the saddle riding during the overnights if he wants to keep the momentum going from strong days.

Remember - in RAAM, the numbers don't lie. 200 miles during the day and 100 miles at night equals a 10 day crossing.

Right now, I am guesstimating that Rob will roll into Plains, Kansas at about 3:00 PM today, exactly five days into the race. That means he will have completed 1386 miles in five days or 277 miles per day. Extend that out and it equates to an approximate 11 day crossing, meaning Rob would arrive in Annapolis in the early afternoon on Thursday, June 19. In my mind, an awesome crossing, but I know Rob wants to do better. And he still can.

Stay tuned.

Photo from the road

Crew member Tom Wendel continues to send cool photos.

Health note: If you look closely at photos of RAAM riders, they start to look like they are developing beer bellies. While there is no doubt those will come after the race, what you are actually seeing is what Rob calls "RAAM Gut". It's gastric distention - basically a gas build-up in the stomach. It can be a problem as it makes it more difficult for the stomach to empty and deliver calories to the body.

Rob is consuming somewhere between 10,000-12,000 calories a day and he needs every one of those. If things aren't getting through, it can cause him to "bonk" or run out of fuel. Not pleasant.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Crew: "Rob - it goes much faster if you actually RIDE it."
Rob: "Bite me."

*Report from the road - 6-13-2008, 6:45 AM EDT*

An interview with Rob from some time last night. He looks and sounds great to me. Fortunately for Kate, she now has permanent video evidence that this is most likely Rob's last RAAM!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

*Report from the road - 6-12-2008, 10:18 PM EDT*

Just spoke to night crew nav-man Mike Desilet. Rob's riding well. It's getting cold again and temps are expected to drop back into the high 20's tonight. The plan is to get him through Time Station 21 in Clayton, NM, and then push past that until about 2:00 AM, when he will go down for his scheduled sleep break.

Everyone sounded upbeat and enthusiastic about Rob's performance.

Mike said he would pass along my comments in the previous post.

BTW - thanks to all-around good guy and Rob's cousin Tom Schmiedel who has been out on the course and cheering Rob on since Colorado. He is waiting at the Clayton time station right now, where Rob will stop for 15 minutes and put on some warm clothes. I know he will enjoy seeing Tommy again.

One last thing: Is it mere coincidence that the night crew navigator's last name is "Desilet" as in "desolate"? If you saw the area of the country they were traveling through right now... well, you get the point.

Talking to Rob's mom... and to Rob

Rob's mom, Jean, called me tonight to get the real scoop on Rob. She spoke to Rob and Kate this morning, but she wasn't sure she got the whole story.

I told her that since I was not in the van behind Rob, I was in no position to contradict what they were telling her.

Jeanie does know, however, that I have crewed for all of Rob's previous races and know how to read the numbers and read between the lines. So this is what I said to her:

He's slower than he planned and he's had some pretty serious challenges thrown at him. So far, he has stiff-armed each of those challenges and is staying on the bike and is improving.

His goal of finishing Tuesday is almost certainly out of the question and he knows that. Rob is smarter than all of us put together and even he, with his addled, sleep-deprived brain, knows the score. He's been at this game since 1994.

She asked me if I think he will finish. I said absolutely yes. In fact, I think he can finish late Wednesday night if his body cooperates and he stays on the bike. As of this writing, his average speed has gone up considerably and that's what matters.

I remember the first RAAM in 1996. I was watching my best friend suffer mightily and it was painful. The following year, I got over that. As Kate likes to remind him - Rob chose to do this. Nobody forced him.

So what would I say to him if I were there now, crewing for him? I would say:

"Man-up, nancy-boy. How about this: You keep your ass on the bike and ride for the next six days. After it's over, you can sit and watch pre-season college football and RAAM videos for the rest of the summer, until you get pasty-white, fat and doughy and bask in the knowledge that you are, without question, one of the toughest bullheads any of us has ever known. Now RIDE!"

That's what I would say.

Satellite tracking now working again

For those of you going through "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol" withdrawal, you can watch the ultimate reality show again and follow Rob in real time.

Go to, click on "Track Athlete" and enter "teammorlock" for both user name and password. You will want to look at trackers #116 and #334. Those are Rob.

If you see him doing anything less than 23 mph, feel free to call his cell phone and tell him to get on it!

*Report from the road - 6-12-2008, 5:30 PM EDT*

RAAMing through time station 19 - Cimarron, NM - I just got off the phone with the pace van and Rob is returning to Rob form. He is breathing easier (but not perfect) and the coughing seems to be subsiding.

His speed into and over the difficult section in Cimarron (wasn't that the name of a very lousy Cadillac once-upon-a-time?) was quite impressive and now let's see what the flatter, lower-altitude roads do for speed.

Everyone in the pace van sounded like they were having fun, but then again, they are driving, not riding. Day crew today is driver Vin Daniello (replacing the departed John Browne, who headed back to Connecticut today), navigator Mike Perron and chef/mechanic Kate Morlock.

A few words about the entire crew: it might be the best crew Rob has ever had on RAAM. In addition to the names above, Mike Desilet, Sal Dicello, Kate Fitzpatrick (mom-in-law), Javier Lowe, Todd Tallman, Gary Truax and Tom Wendel are clearly doing yeoman's work keeping Rob in the game.

I don't get to speak to the night crew as much as I would like, but they have performed some pretty miraculous feats of crew-ness over the past 48 hours.

It is hard work, believe me. More on that in a future post.

An aside - RAAM Team event

Just FYI - the team version of RAAM started yesterday. Teams can be two, four or eight persons and man, do they fly. They can ride together in a peloton (the same team, that is) or switch off individually. They can ride two at a time for 20 minutes or for four hours. Any combination and anything goes. They never stop for sleep. Any sleeping is done in a motor home during someone else's turn at riding. It's just crazy.

I remember one quiet morning in Arkansas in RAAM 1996 when the first teams came barreling past Rob. What a scene. I also remember how several of their crew members waited for Rob up the road so that could genuflect in homage to Rob - a solo rider.

That is the type of sportsmanship and brotherhood that is RAAM.

*Report from the road - 6-12-2008, 2:20 PM EDT*

In the last few hours I have spoken to crew members John Browne, Mike Perron and Kate Morlock (just hung up the phone.)

Rob is riding solidly right now on his way to time station 19 in Cimarron, NM. This section includes the last bit of serious climbing before heading into the lower elevations of eastern New Mexico and on into Kansas.

This is a good thing, since Rob has been having some lung problems and his breathing has been labored. It is affecting his power and reducing his speeds on the bike. This is a common problem on RAAM, as past great riders have dealt with bronchitis and pneumonia.

He is hoping that the lower elevations will help his breathing and get his average speed back up.

At this point, he is just shy of 1,100 miles into the race. For those of us who ride 1,100 miles in, say, a couple months - we are in awe. The last time I traveled 1,100 miles in one shot, it was in an airplane (though I think it took longer and I suffered more than Rob. Certainly the air was more foul and the food worse.)

Anyway, the key to RAAM is staying on the bike and moving east. That is what he is doing now and his performance over the next 24 hours will be an important measure of whether or not that lung problem will remain an issue.

*Report from the road - 6-12-2008, 11:55 AM EDT*

Rob went through time station 18, Taos, NM, about an hour ago. Clearly he is behind his desired schedule. He did not log too many miles last night and as a result has fallen to 17th place overall as of Taos. In addition to all the other stuff RAAM has thrown at him, he apparently spiked a fever last night, which is why he was off the bike more than planned.

I spoke briefly with Kate (his wife) and crew chief Mike Perron, both of whom are with Rob in the Pace Van today. They say his spirits are still good and he is riding strong again.

I still think Rob can find his legs and slowly pull himself back up in the standings. If his body cooperates, he'll be there.

Some Rob photos

Somewhere in Colorado. Despite the constant companionship of your crew,
RAAM is a very lonely undertaking

With camera crew. Quite the Chatty-Cathy.

Top of La Manga Pass - highest point in race.
"OK, Robbie. It's a 1,000 miles downhill to the Mississippi River!"

*Report from the road - 6-12-2008, 9:30 AM EDT*

Just had a brief conversation with night crew navigator Mike Desilet. The temperature dropped to 19 degrees last night while Rob was riding toward Taos. He had to get into the motor home to warm up and take a nap.

Rob is now back on the bike and riding strong once again.

Let's see, now. So far, this edition of RAAM has presented Rob with:

- Extreme heat
- Extreme cold
- A broken pace vehicle
- Dehydration
- Insane headwinds

A yet, there he is back on the bike and riding toward Taos.

As of 9:30, he was still 30 miles from the Taos time station. I thought he would get there by around 3:00 or 4:00 am, but clearly the cold temps of New Mexico had other plans.

I hope to catch up with both the day and night crews by phone in a few minutes for further updates.

Also, I have some new photos sent over yesterday that I will post momentarily.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Numbers, numbers, numbers

I'll leave you all with some numbers tonight to think about.

RAAM is all about the numbers: average speed, miles per hour, miles per day. As a former Morlock crew member, I loved crunching the numbers for Rob and he enjoys hearing about it over the PA system. I have to say that it's much easier to run the numbers sitting here in Connecticut in front of the computer, as opposed to while riding shotgun in the pace van.

Rob's had a rough couple of days due to heat and automobile problems. Yet, he is still at about 297 miles per 24 hours average over the first three days. Not where he wants to be (300+), but given the difficulties of the last 30 hours, pretty darned impressive.

His average speed plummeted yesterday due to that long sleep break while the crew re-fitted the shuttle van to become the pace van that follows Rob.


Something caught my eye tonight as he went through the Chama, NM, time station tonight:

His overall average speed is starting to inch back up. And that is AFTER getting into Chama, which had some pretty tough climbing. It tells me that he is finding his legs again and getting back into the groove. And with 2000 miles to go, that gives him plenty of runway to just stay steady and gain ground.

Something else to consider: As of this writing, Rob is sitting 13th overall among the men.


The difference between 13th (Morlock) and 6th (Jones) is two hours, 20 minutes as of time station 16. There are six guys less than an hour in front of Rob. Hmmmmm.

I haven't spent the time analyzing when each of these racers will have to take their next sleep break. And, of course, Rob will have to stop and rest again some time tonight as well.

The point of all this is that it is a long race. With two thirds still to go, the standings will change countless times.

The key factor for Rob is keeping that overall average speed solid. He is currently at 12.41 mph overall. In his last RAAM in 2000, he finished 8th overall with an average speed of 11.82. He needs to ride smart and consistent. He has some fierce climbing coming up tonight and tomorrow (Thursday). In fact, as I type this, he will be approaching the highest point in the entire race - La Manga Pass at 10,275 feet.

If he were able to to sustain 12.00 mph for the whole race, that would put him in Annapolis in about 10.5 days or around 3:00 am on Thursday, June 19. That would be a really great crossing.

Of course, this is all silly speculation at this early stage. But Rob likes to know the numbers and if I get a chance to speak to him or a member of the crew tomorrow, I will let him know what I have written here.

Rob has a lot of time, a lot of miles and a lot of strength and courage at his disposal. It will be great watching the next third of the race unfold!

You do the math: Rob + cute reporter = interview

Hopefully, he did not talk to her during one of his epic bathroom breaks. Doubt it. It would have been the last interview of her RAAM career.

Time requirements/checkpoints

Back in the day, to be an official finisher of RAAM, a racer had to finish with in 48 hours of the winner.

That has changed over the years and now there is a cutoff time for the finish, but also two intermediate cut-offs. If a racer does not get to each of these checkpoints by the deadline, they are not considered an official RAAM finisher:

Checkpoint Times for Solo Men Racers

TS 18, Taos, NM - 1,000 miles
Start + 96 hours =
Thursday, June 12, 3:00 PM EDT

TS 34, Mississippi River - 2,000 miles
Start + 192 Hours =
Monday June 16, 2008, 3pm EDT

Finish line - 3,000 miles
Start + 288 Hours =
Friday June 20, 2008, 3pm EDT

For the record, Rob will be in Taos about 1/2 day ahead of the cutoff, some time overnight tonight.

*Report from the road - 6-11-2008, 4:30 PM EDT*

Pagosa Springs, Colorado, meet Ozzie Osborne.

Rob is feeling his old self again and riding like... well, Rob. Which is to say, fantastic.

Need proof? Check this video that day crew chef/mechanic John Browne sent as Rob approached the Pagosa Springs time station this afternoon:

And some commentary and photos from former RAAM winner Danny Chew.

"Am I going east or west?"

"Some day, I am going to get me one of them bikes with MOTORS on them."

A BIG thanks to the kind folks at New Country Chrysler in Cortez, CO

The pace van (now the shuttle van) is BACK on the road after some major transmission surgery.

Thanks to our new friends and honorary TeamMorlock members at New Country Chrysler in Cortez for gettin 'er dun!

"Sensational" Sonnie, service adviser & Nate "The Natural", service manager

"Rock Dog" Rudy, mechanic super-guy

*Report from the road - 6-11-2008, 12:45 PM EDT*

This paragraph below was posted to the RAAM news site just a few minutes ago. The whole RAAM organization is world-class in every way - professional, friendly and supportive. This race truly is a brotherhood and sisterhood of total whack-jobs! ;-)

We stopped by TS 13 in Durango, CO and were lucky enough to catch up with a few of the racers crew. It seems getting out of the desert and into the cooler Colorado weather has lifted everyone’s spirits.

Another photo of Rob

In the motor home at the Durango time station.

*Report from the road - 6-11-2008, 10:00 AM EDT*

A nice post and photo of Rob coming into Durango on the RAAM web site.

How to read the standings

A few email questions as to where Rob stands overall. As of 10:00 am, he is in 12th place overall for the men.

How so?

Because even though there are separate age divisions (Solo, 50-59, 60+), they all count in the overall standings. So you have to look at the time station and the arrival time at the time station for each racer. Based on that, the standings are:

1. Robic
2. Garcia
3. Preihs
4. Haase
5. Pattinson
6. Holt
7. Levy
8. McIntosh
9. Correy
10. Rudge
11. Jakob
12 Morlock

*Report from the road - 6-11-2008, 8:30 AM EDT*

Spoke to Rob a few minutes ago. Yesterday was a rough day. The heat took its toll on him and his crew was concerned about his vital signs.

Crew member Sal Dicello is an EMT and is keeping a close eye on Rob, including fluid intake and vital signs. Rob was riding this morning after an extended (five hour) sleep break. He said he is now feeling good as he heads toward Durango, CO. He had a full breakfast and his appetite is great.

Last week, Rob was keenly aware that his Connecticut body was not 100 percent acclimated to the desert heat heading into this race. It has been a cool spring here in Connecticut and that caused some concern. But he has a spectacularly competent and trained crew who can administer IV fluids and other medical attention as needed. This should keep Rob riding and help him get his strength back.

Also, Rob being the detail man that he is (and anyone reading this who knows him, knows what I am talking about), is concerned about the broken pace van back in Cortez. I told him not to worry about that and that we were taking care of it and that he just needed to ride.

So that's what he is doing. Good man.

Rob: "John - YOU ride it."
John Browne: "I'm not going to ride it! Give it to Mikey! He'll ride anything!"
Mikey Perron: "Sorry, Rob. I'll be trying to fix the transmission on this fine Chrysler product in about five hours."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

*Report from the road - 6-10-2008, 11:55 PM EDT*

The pace van that follows Rob is having major mechanical difficulties. Rob is taking a sleep break while the crew transfers pace van materials to the shuttle van so that when Rob wakes up, he can continue riding.

When I spoke with Mike Perron just now, they were in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Cortez, CO, trying in vain to repair the transmission which is hemorrhaging fluid.

They are about two miles from the local Chrysler dealer, which they plan to be at when it opens for business tomorrow morning. With any luck, they can get it fixed and be on their way. If not, there will have to be some seriously creative logistical footwork, since the ailing vehicle was rented here in New Milford and I am reasonably sure that the local dealership will want it back at some point.

I plan to speak to the local dealership in the morning.

Rob is feeling fine, though he said he lost a bit of the snap in his legs today and he is frustrated by the number of times he has to urinate, which is slowing him down. He's been here before. No worries. A good nap and a working pace van should put him back in the groove.

Hey - If this was easy, it wouldn't be RAAM!

The ebb and flow of RAAM

Rob's average speed has come way down over the last 110 miles or so. The cell phone service is very spotty and I had a brief chat with Kate and Mike Perron at around 5:30 PM.

Nothing specific to report, other than a couple of extended nature breaks and that seem to account for the slower speeds.

The numbers don't lie. For example: The distance between TS 10 and TS 11 was 45 miles. If Rob did that in three hours, that would have meant 15 mph average speed, which would have been on the slow side, but not out of line with some of the other racers.

Rob's average speed was 12.3. Mike told me he took two 20-minute bathroom breaks between TS 10 and TS 11. Tack 40 minutes onto three hours and your get an average speed of... 12.3. There you have it.

This is RAAM. Sometimes you're up and sometimes you just have to dial it back and let the body do what it needs to do.

Rob knows this as well as anyone out there. He's riding well. Now that whatever was in his system is out, we'll keep an eye out for a return to a more typical pace.

*Report from the road - 6-10-2008, 4:10 PM EDT*

Just got off the phone with the pace van. Rob passed through Time Station #11 in Mexican Hat, Utah at 4:00 PM EDT. With Gerhard out, Rob is back in 5th place, about 90 minutes behind David Haase, who Rob has spoken of as a great cyclist and a worthy competitor.

I didn't get much of a chance to talk to Tom Wendel in the pace van, but based on Rob's average speed between Time Stations 10 & 11, he must have taken a break. There is not that much climbing in this section and there is a considerable amount of downhills, so he must have stepped off the bike. If I found out why, I'll post an update.

Some math: Rob has completed 680 miles in just about 48 hours. That's 340 miles per day, which is simply a fantastic start. He is pacing himself and dosing his efforts through the climbing and through the heat and I am awe-struck at how well this is going so far. It's a long race, to be sure, but I have crewed for every one of Rob's races (except this one) and I can say this is a truly auspicious start.

Radio Blackout

I have received a few emails from people asking why the GPS tracker is working intermittently.

The crew and Rob are aware of this and the reason is simple: They are in a cell phone "No Man's Land." Large swaths of the RAAM course travel through desolate parts of this great nation.

The GPS tracking device from, which is incredibly cool, relies on cellphone towers to relay its location back to the Internet so that we can all see exactly where Rob has stopped to take a leak. If there is no cell service, well, there ya' go.

Furthermore, like actual cell phones, while the device is searching for a cell phone tower, it runs the batteries down faster than if it had constant service. So, the crew will keep the batteries charged and focus on getting it up and running when they are traveling through the more populated areas of the course. It will get better and better and they head east.

Also, because of the lack of cell service, I have not been able to get in touch with the pace van for most of the day. Rob likes to get race updates and stats, which I try to phone in regularly to the pace van crew so that they can pass along to Rob via the PA system. (This is one of the jobs of the navigator - to keep Rob entertained. I did a lot of it in my three RAAMs crewing for Rob, but that was back in the days before cell phone service and indoor plumbing so it was much harder to get information. So most of the time, I just made it up. What did Rob know? He was half out of his mind from sleep deprivation.)

I am sure Rob is pestering his crew for information as I type this and as soon as they are back in cell phone range, my phone will ring.

Stay tuned.

Sad news - Gulewicz abandons

Gerhard Gulewicz has dropped out of RAAM due to injuries sustained in his crash overnight.

We hope he recovers quickly.

Update from former RAAMer Danny Chew

"Um... what? I have to ride HOW F-ING FAR???"

Former RAAM rider Danny Chew posted this about Rob on the official RAAM blog earlier today.

Notice that Rob already has the classic "biker's tan" going - noticeable right around his biceps where he goes from Connecticut pasty-white to Arizona golden-brown.

Don't ask about the condom hat. It's just a fun little thing that Rob likes to do to psyche out the competition and make them think he is totally insane.

Empathizing with Rob

When I spoke to Rob this morning, I told him that I was right there with him in spirit.

"How so?" he asked.

I told him that it continues to be hot (95 degrees) here in Connecticut, but in his honor, I ran an extra two miles this morning. In the process of doing so, I think I might have picked up a bit of prickly heat. So I told him that I am suffering right there with him.

He told me to never call him at work again.

RAAM is a dangerous race

Reports on the RAAM web site this morning state that Gerhard Gulewicz has been taken to the hospital after a horrific crash. Apparently, he was trying to remove a jacket while riding and it got caught in his wheel.

No word yet on whether he will re-join the race. He has dropped from battling for first with Jure Robic to currently 4th place. Not surprising since he is sitting in a hospital.

We wish him well and hope he can get back on his bike soon. If he does, I am sure Rob will enjoy talking to him and, as one of the true veterans in the race (Rob, that is) have some words of wisdom and encouragement for Gerhard.

*Report from the road - 6-10-2008, 10:10 AM EDT*

Just got off the phone with Rob on the bike. He said:

"Feeling great! So far, my best RAAM ever!"

He is very happy with everything - his riding, the crew, the scenery, the music. He said his total stop time last night was about three hours and he slept reasonably well.

He said that tonight Kate (his wife) will be on the motor home crew when he stops for his sleep break and he is looking forward to seeing her.

Once upon a time, Tom Gallagher, Dave Fiorini, Dustin Sugasa or me would have had to be his wife. Now, we're thrown away like warm Spiz.

Girls ruin everything.

*Report from the road - 6-10-2008, 9:45AM EDT*

Rob took his first sleep break last night just after Time Station 8 in Flagstaff. It was a brutal day of climbing and he has more of it today. Reports from the crew is that he is feeling good and climbing strong.

He will be traveling through the Navajo and Hopi nations today.

GOOD NEWS: Team Captain Mike Perron fixed both the stereo and the PA system. Daytime driver John Browne voted Mike "Team MVP of the Day." Let the sounds of Black Sabbath and The Beastie Boys ring forth across the land!

Here are a couple of photos from yesterday's climbs and one from this morning after Rob woke up and prepared for another day in the saddle:
(Click on photos for large view)
"Hey, this really IS a cool bike."

The view from the navigator's seat: Rob's ass for 3,000 miles

Daytime navigator Tom Wendel: "May I take your breakfast order, sir?"
Rob: "I'll have a cold Spiz, followed by another one every hour until the end of time."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Expected arrival times for Rob

I know that some friends along the RAAM route are thinking of coming out and seeing Rob. For those of you that are, here is a great link with Rob's predicted arrivals time at each time station.

Keep in mind that this is based on each rider's average speed as they pass through each time station. So as average speeds go up (after a long downhill) or drop (after lots of climbing or a sleep break), these predictions will be constantly changing to reflect the reality at that moment in time.

As the race progresses, these predictions become more reliable, as each rider's average speed is calculated over a longer distance and therefore individual fluctuations up or down have less of an effect on overall average speed.

Also keep in mind that for every rider, average speed will steadily drop during the course of the race, as RAAM takes its toll. Right now, race leader Jure Robic is hammering away at around 18.2 mph average speed. (He has not slept yet.) The winner will probably come in somewhere around 14.4 mph.

Here are all the stats for last year's race, if you're curious:

*Report from the road - 6-9-2008, 8:00 PM EDT*

A great first 24 hours for Rob. He rode just about 400 miles in the first 24 hours, which puts him in the top five and gives him a nice 100 mile cushion as he targets 300+ miles/day average for the entire race.

He is feeling strong, motivated and is right on schedule.

In case anyone is wondering, average speeds came way down today as they are doing some serious climbs. The climb out of Prescott, AZ, includes a brutal 12 mile climb. As I write this, Rob is on a 40 mile (yes "four-zero" mile) climb out of Cottonwood, AZ, to Sedona on his way to Flagstaff. So, if you are wondering why he is going 8-10 mph, well, now you know.

If you would like to see the route for yourself, turn-by-turn, you can click here and select "ZIP file of Directions" to print out the same route book that all racer crews are using in their pace vans.


Thoughts on the leaders:

It will be interesting to see what happens with Robic and Gulewicz. They will either motivate each other to keep hammering away at the front of the race on their way to a record crossing, or they will beat each other into quivering heaps of flesh.

In case either of their teams are reading this: Don't look over your shoulders. Rob Morlock is on your ass!

Questions about RAAM

Received an email from one of the many people following Rob's progress with some good questions that some others may be curious about:

1. Did Rob ride all night through the first night last night?
-Yes. There is an old saying among RAAM veterans: "Use it while you got it." In other words - this race will grind these guys down to nothing, so the thought is to ride as far as you can while you are fresh to get some miles under your belt before the first sleep break.

2. Does RAAM allow drafting?
-Absolutely not. It is a penalty offense and multiple offenses can lead to disqualification. In fact, the RAAM rules state specfically that riders are only allowed to ride next to each other for 15 minutes every 24 hours. This is truly a solo effort.

*Report from the road - 6-9-2008, 4:30 PM EDT*

I just hung up with the pace van that is following Rob. They just went through Time Station 6 in Prescott, AZ. We have our first minor problem of the race:

Both the stereo system that plays music for Rob and the PA system that the crew uses to direct him have blown out.

It would be difficult to do a 3,000 mile race without the music (especially for Rob), but almost impossible to do it without the PA system.

They are confident that they can fix it and are looking for a good time to pull over that keeps Rob safe.

Nice photo of Rob smiling his way up a hill on the official RAAM photo blog.

Also - the GPS Tracker seems to be working now at Click on "TRACK ATHLETE" and then enter "teammorlock" for both 'username' and 'password'.

*Report from the road - 6-9-2008, 2:30 PM EDT*

Just got off the phone with day crew, who were at the side of the road watering the local flora. Rob was feeling good as he headed through Time Station 5 in Congress, Arizona, in 5th place. He and David Haase are joined at the hip for 5th and 6th place. He is pleased with the way things are going, yet amazed at the pace of Jure Robic and Gerhard Gulewicz, who have already gone through TS #6, which puts them about three hours ahead of Rob on the road.

Hopefully I can chat with Rob later today and post about it here.

*Report from the road - 6-9-2008, 8:45 AM EDT*

This update just came via cell phone from Tom Wendel (Click on it to read):

*Reports and Photos from the road - 6-9-2008*

Spoke to John Browne last night around 8:00 PM. All was well and they were preparing to transition from day crew to night crew.

They are aware of the fact that the GPS tracker is not working and are trying to fix it.

Checking the stats this morning, Rob is fifth place at Time Station 4, 284 miles into the race. I hope to hear from Rob or John later this morning, after day crew comes back on shift to hear about how far Rob plans to ride before his first sleep break. (I expect Rob will try to sleep some time tonight, Monday night/Tuesday morning between 2-4 am.)

Tom Wendel sent these great photos from the start and Rob's first day in the California desert (You can click on all photos and blow them up to full size.)

Team about one hour before race

Rob on Route 78 in Calif.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

*Report from the road - 6-8-2008, 7:05 PM EDT*

Just got off the phone with the pace van that follows Rob. All is going well, with Rob in 6th place overall at Time Station 1 in Lake Henshaw, CA.

They all tend to be pretty bunched up in the early going, as evidenced by the first 13 racers at Time Station 1 all coming in with less than an hour separating them.

That will change in the next 24 hours.

One of the most important pages

For those of you looking to follow the progress of the race, probably the single most important page is here :

This will give you overall standings, as well as where racers are placed overall and relative to each other based on their arrivals at each time station. From there, you can click on links to the racers and the individual times station to see who arrived where and when.

RAAM is all about numbers and it looks the race organizers are going to make it easy for us to follow the race by the numbers.

The most critical number is average speed.

- Average speed between each time station shows both how well a racer is riding as well as whether or not he/she took a sleep break. (If a rider is averaging, say, 17 mph between times station and all of the sudden it drops to 10 mph, chances are they went to sleep.)

- Average cumulative speed is all-encompassing - meaning it takes into account all stops, including sleep. The winner will average around 14.4 mph overall.

"But it's a DRY heat..."

I just got off the phone with Rob and Kate. Everyone is all set and ready to go with less than two hours until the start of the race.

It's pushing 95 degrees here in Connecticut and I told Rob that I thought of him the entire way during my piddling little 40 mile ride yesterday.

I reminded him of what a great race he had in 1996 (his first RAAM) and how it was overcast the entire morning of the second day when we were traveling through the Arizona desert. What could have been 100 degree plus direct sun ended up being a relatively comfortable 90 degrees under cloudy skies right into Flagstaff.

This year's race covers some of those same roads, including going right through Flagstaff.

Rob and I talked about what a relatively cool spring it has been in Connecticut this year (two weeks ago it was 60 degrees and raining) and how his body may not be 100% ready for the desert heat.

He said that he would take it nice and easy through the California and Arizona desert today and tomorrow so that he comes through fresh and ready to pick up the pace in Utah and Colorado and on into New Mexico.

He sounded upbeat and ready to go.

He has been planning and training for this for more than a year and now it's time to ride.

We wish him and the crew well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Some preparation photos

Rob called me today from his bike. He was out stretching his legs while the team set up the vans for the race. Says he feels good, but is anxious to get on the road and start the race.

Crew member Tom Wendel sent over these photos:

Team Morlock

Rob & Kate on the plane

Team Captain Mike Perron, Tom Wendel and Rob

Setting up the vans

Rob talk to reigning champ and pre-race favorite Jure Robic

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Waves one and two in Cali!

Spoke to Rob today. The first wave of crew, including Rob and Kate, arrived safely in Oceanside, California yesterday.

Wave two - including a guy named... Wave!... arrives today with the pace van and all of Rob's bikes. He drove the van from Connecticut to California this week, as he has done for the previous three RAAMs in 1996, 1997 and 2000.

Wave is a good man!

In case you never saw this on Rob's web site, there are a couple of good posts (5/21/08 and 4/15/08) on the News page that describes the equipment involved and what each member of the crew does during the race. Worth reading as we prepare for the start on Sunday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Special thanks

A big thank you to the staff and management at Hertz Danbury - Tooley Lane location. They are big supporters of the Danbury Police Department and of Rob's RAAM effort.

We appreciate their consideration and help and encourage anyone in the Danbury area who needs to rent a car to consider Hertz at Tooley Lane. Tell them Rob sent you!

Rob in the news

Feature story about Rob on the front page of today's Danbury News-Times.